Greg Bester

Greg Bester

I know that everything changes

I came to Buddhism in mid life. My life was, until then, fairly conventional in a western sense. I was raised a Catholic, I married in my twenties, and I had two children. I thought I had it made.

Then when I was 35 my mother was diagnosed with leukemia. During the next three years I watched helplessly as she slowly deteriorated and died. For months after her death I was lost. I could not understand how such a wonderful person could have suffered so much. My faith in a loving God was shattered. I was close to despair. Then, by chance, I saw “A Path With Heart” by Jack Kornfield in a bookstore. This wonderful book introduced me to Buddhism with its gentle wisdom. The part of the book I remember best was the story of a woman who had recently lost her husband. Well intentioned people from a variety of faiths gave her comfort from their point of view. She was confused and went to see Mr. Kornfield. He asked her what she herself knew about life and death. She replied, “I know that everything changes and not much more than that. Everything that is born dies, everything in life is in the process of change,” (p. 159). This simple statement touched me profoundly. I could see the truth in that statement from my own experience. From the time I read that book, my spiritual journey had changed.

I borrowed books on Buddhism from my library and learned about the life of the Buddha. It turned out that his spiritual journey also began as the result of the realization of death. I also learned about the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. I sought out and found others who were searching spiritually and we practised vipassana meditation together for about two years. Recently, I felt that I had reached the limit of what I could teach myself. I found a teacher from the Theravada school who was willing to take me on as a student. I am learning much and my practice is deepening. In Buddhism, I have not found a new religion. I have found a method to help me find the answers that have eluded me my whole life. I still have a long, long way to go, but I can say from my own experience that the practice has made me more aware of the nature of mind and, I think, an easier person to live with.